Too Much Democracy
Friday Ephemera

The Cost of Piety

In revisiting the recent saga involving the Muslim hairstylist, Bushra Noah, and her award of £4000 in damages for “injured feelings,” Mary Jackson touches on an important point.

[Salon owner, Sarah] Desrosiers railed against this injustice:

I’ve worked hard all my life - how can it be possible that someone can come into my shop, talk to me for ten minutes, and then sue me for £34,000? How is that possibly fair?

It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair because the balance of risk and reward has been cruelly inverted. Desrosiers risked, sacrificed, and lost. Noah risked nothing, sacrificed nothing, and won.

Desrosiers risked. She risked her savings and her security, and was punished for refusing to risk still more. Significantly, the employment tribunal overrode her judgment, concluding that “there was no specific evidence before us as to what would (for sure) have been the actual impact of the claimant working in her salon,” and that it “doubted whether the risk was as severe as the owner believed.” That is easy for them to say. They do not bear the risk. The only way to provide the required “specific evidence” would be for Desrosiers to employ Noah, lose business, and perhaps go bankrupt. The time spent preparing her defense cost Desrosiers an estimated £40,000 of the salon’s income and many sleepless nights. The case cost Noah, who, being unemployed, must have received legal aid from the British taxpayer, nothing at all. Desrosiers risked and Noah was rewarded.

And here’s the bigger issue:

Likewise, Desrosiers made sacrifices and was punished for not sacrificing still more - for someone else’s freely chosen religious convictions. Most religions require conservative dress, particularly of women. Conservative dress is not compatible with a “funky” workplace, but why should a devoutly religious woman mind? Forgoing the opportunity to work in an “urban and edgy” salon would seem a small price to pay for God’s approval. Wouldn’t God prefer Noah to work in a more traditional salon? And shouldn’t Noah accept this sacrifice as part of the deal?

Indeed. Isn’t the cost of piety meant to be borne exclusively by the pious? Isn’t that the whole point, such as it is? If a believer chooses to forgo certain pleasures and opportunities, isn’t that meant to be a metaphysical test of some kind – a matter of self-denial - one of supposedly cosmic importance? And isn’t demanding exemptions and compensation simply cheating to gain the approval of one’s hypothetical deity? If a person avoids certain foodstuffs or swimming with infidels because he believes avoiding those things will please God for some strange reason, then that’s a pretty mad formulation. But attempting to circumvent those self-imposed restrictions by imposing on others seems somewhat dubious even on its own, mad, terms. Or doesn’t God mind if someone else is forced to pick up the tab? And how convenient is that?

Broadly speaking, I don’t particularly care what metaphysical hang-ups a person has, provided those mental ticks are, as it were, kept off my lawn. If people wish to be a little bonkers and neurotic, that doesn’t usually trouble me. But expecting others to indulge those neuroses or defer to them - and then cheerily subsidise them too - is, well, pushing it a little. That isn’t piety or anything close to piety; that’s just parasitic arrogance.

Comments

Anna

It's Allah the extortionist.

Jason

"Or doesn’t God mind if someone else is forced to pick up the tab?"

Of course God, or at least Allah, doesn't mind. The "person" being imposed upon is an infidel, and hence less than human. Had Miss Jackson been a proper human being, ie a Muslim, then there never would have been an issue to begin with. So it's not so much an imposition as a pious attempt to steer an infidel onto the One True Path by punishing her for her false beliefs and lifestyle! What could be more pleasing in the eyes of God?

David

Well, insofar as sacralised extortion has been a normative feature of Islamic history and belief, I did wonder if Ms Noah’s demands were more than just arrogant opportunism and were, at least in part, an act of religious observance. Either way, she should have been shown the door, quite emphatically.

The notion of the jizya (the poll tax traditionally extorted from non-Muslims) and the broader notion of the subordinated dhimma are, clearly, monstrous. Their history and implementation should – one would think - be embarrassing to any Muslim of good conscience. No other major religion has codified and sacralised supremacism to the same extent based on its founder’s own example, or enacted it so widely and so violently for so long. But then, Muhammad is the only major religious figure who could accurately be described as both a desert pirate and an opportunist racketeer.

Whether Ms Noah was acting with this tradition in mind is unclear; but the fact her actions conform to it is worth pondering. When other, similar cases arise – and they no doubt will – it would be wise to bear in mind this aspect of Islamic history and belief.

randian

Why would any Muslim find it embarrassing? Allah commands, Muslims (as good submissives) obey. Muslims must obey the thousands of rules that prescribe life down to its minutest detail ("everything not mandatory is forbidden"). Only clerics are allowed to interpret or apply reason to the rules, and even then only if there is not already a ruling on the subject ("the gates of ijtihad are closed"). Islam's only evident moral rule is "if it helps Islam it's morally good, if it impedes Islam it's morally bad". Development of moral reasoning and conscience are, in my opinion, thereby stunted or nonexistent in Muslims. I don't think Muslims have a conscience as a westerner would understand it.

Steve in San Diego

In photographs of Ms. Noah, she radiates smug arrogance.

David

aynrandgirl,

“Why would any Muslim find it embarrassing?”

Given there are many degrees of religious observance and a range of perceptions among believers as to what Islam is and who Muhammad was, I assume there’s plenty of scope for embarrassment and discomfort. Some Muslims may be unaware of the historical and theological features mentioned above and unaware of Muhammad’s less attractive attributes; others may be aware only of heavily sanitised and misleading accounts, like those of Karen Armstrong, etc. Thus, the dissonance between belief and reality seems a likely source of discomfort of one kind or another.

Trimegistus

Ms. Desrosiers is guilty of three unforgivable crimes: she is a white, nominally Christian person who owns a business. She must be made an example of. In the name of Holy Diversity she must be despoiled, humiliated, and driven out.

Kellie Strøm

A sharp post - linked to it here:
http://airforceamazons.blogspot.com/2008/07/cost-of-piety.html

JuliaM

You know, it isn't just the religious whose feelings can be hurt, it appears:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4276423.ece

Never mind, 'Killer' - £5000 will make it all better, I'm sure.

rv

"insofar as sacralised extortion has been a normative feature of Islamic history and belief"

WTF?

David

Julia,

It’s hard to see any flattering motive for people who demand payouts for “hurt feelings”. What comes to mind first is the term “vindictive whinger”. Once we’re in the realm of “hurt feelings” as a basis for leverage and litigation, vindictive grasping is an inevitable motive, and perhaps the default one.

RV,

The jizya is mentioned in the Qur’an (famously 9:29) and in several hadith and its punitive, humiliating purpose is pretty clear from those texts. Jizya was a principle means of financing the major jihad campaigns and thereby the expansion of dar-al-Islam. The tax, which was generally much higher than those paid by Muslims, was a key signifier of non-Muslims’ subservient “dhimmi” status. Andrew Bostom recently quoted the Arabic lexicographer, E.W. Lane, who described the jizya as “the tax paid in lieu of being slain.” In The Laws of Islamic Governance, the 11th century jurist al-Mawardi notes: “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation… Reconciliation and security last as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes.” Thus, extortion with menaces seems a reasonable description and the connotations of Mafia “protection” are entirely apt.

http://www.andrewbostom.org/blog/2008/06/26/%e2%80%9cthe-tax-paid-in-lieu-of-being-slain%e2%80%9d%e2%80%94and-the-murder-of-iraqi-archbishop-rahho/

(See also A.S. Tritton’s The Caliphs and their Non-Muslim Subjects, Maxime Rodinson’s Muhammad, A. Ben Shemesh’s Taxation in Islam, Robert Spencer’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and Bostom’s own excellent Legacy of Jihad, which contains many Muslim and non-Muslim accounts of the various jihad campaigns and the sacralised subordination of non-Muslims. Again, the traditional, historical understandings of jihad, jizya and the dhimma are pretty unambiguous.)

JuliaM

"It’s hard to see any flattering motive for people who demand payouts for “hurt feelings”. What comes to mind first is the term “vindictive whinger”."

Indeed. And maybe I'm a little naive, but wouldn't you expect, well, a little more stability from a trained marksman...?

I mean, why not just give the daft mare a frosty scowl and a 'Actually, that's not very funny, is it, Commander!'. Was he worried she'd toss her drink and canape to the side and go for his throat with a plastic fork? He's trained for that, surely..? ;)

Sue R

As everybody these days seems to be going for it and suing for emotional distress, he probably thought he had as much right as the next person.

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